By Nadia Beadle
Several years ago, an elderly couple at my church celebrated sixty years of marriage together. She packed him a sack lunch to take to work everyday, and he always held the door for her. My little brothers and I would giggle at the unashamed, old-fashioned romance they shared. Although Mrs. Welch has gone on to heaven now, I still think about the love they so evidently shared for each other and hope to follow in their footsteps.
Sixtieth wedding anniversaries are rare, and they’re bound to become even more so. Today, young people are waiting longer and longer to get married. The average marriage age in our nation has risen to 27 for women and 29 for men from 21 and 24 respectively a hundred years ago. While some people are patiently waiting to meet the right person or don’t desire to get married, countless couples want to get married but don’t think it’s a viable option because they’re in college. As college students work towards their career, many also make more personal plans for their future with more serious relationships. As the number of people choosing to attend colleges continues to rise from 5% of the population in 1920 to over 70% today, the question arises: How can colleges and universities affirm and uphold the lives of their students, especially those who decide to partake in the blessing of marriage before they graduate?
Marriage is a gift from God, a union He desires to bless. Modeled after Christ and the Church, it is a place for sacrificial love in action, a place where mercy and forgiveness can abound. Marriage is certainly a serious, life-long commitment that should not be rushed into. It requires maturity, sacrifice, and the means to provide for a family. However, these requirements do not necessarily exclude students, and those who have determined that marriage is a commitment they would like to enter into would be greatly blessed by the benefits this God-given institution has to offer. Since marriage is a good and beautiful gift for those who are ready, perhaps we should be asking how can we promote and uphold marriage for our family-minded students in a world where the socially accepted marrying age continues to slide back further in life and the definitions of what is morally acceptable blur? More specifically, how can colleges and universities, especially our Christian institutions, help students pursue Godly desires and relationships as they plan for their future? How do we support their careers, as well as their families and spiritual lives?
One answer that could alleviate many of the financial and social struggles that often accompany marriage in college is married student housing. Reasonable, cost-effective housing, especially in affluent areas where rent is high, would enable young couples to continue their education. But, it would also help young couples maintain celibacy and avoid the temptations that arise during long engagements. God’s way is the best way, and when two people love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together, the best way is to enter into a God-pleasing marriage where the couple can serve the Lord together as one.
Couples who want to get married and those who do not are able to make Godly decisions and serve the Lord with their lives. However, married housing would support people who would rather get married than wait until after graduation. Married student housing would help couples lead Godly lives and create communities of encouragement for Christian couples on campus. Marriage is a blessing from God. While housing isn’t the only way to support young couples on campus as they build a marriage that will last a lifetime, it can certainly help. As a Sophomore in a church work program planning to get married next spring, I can personally testify that married housing on our Lutheran campuses would be a great blessing and it would support students as they live the life God has planned for them.